MIAMI MAMI

|| Travel Date || 27 July 2017 – 31 July 2017

Typically when I travel, the purpose is to experience exotic food, beautiful culture, and incredible architecture/nature, but my intentions for Miami was simply to help throw Halu (my best friend and sister-in-law) the best bachelorette party ever. There was six of us total and although most of the long weekend was spent heavily drinking, we did experience a lot of what Miami has to offer.

We landed Thursday afternoon and headed straight to Miami Beach. We stayed on Collins Ave. at The Confidante hotel, a boutique hotel perfectly located near South Beach and just across the highway from the mainland. We quickly got ready and headed out to Wynwood for the night. Wynwood is an iconic arts district covered with graffiti and murals on nearly every touchable surface, I highly recommend walking around and exploring, even if you’re just walking from bar to bar. We started off with dinner and drinks at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, a tapas-style latin restaurant donned with a Shepard Fairey mural and mixed modern art creating a really cool, artsy vibe. We then walked over to Beaker & Gray for more drinks (late night happy hour there is great) before heading to Wood Tavern to drink and dance. The outdoor section of the tavern was really fun, it was packed all night with a live DJ and it was the best way to start our trip.

 

Friday we started off at the pool of our hotel, we rented a cabana and spent the day drinking shots of tequila and chasing with pitchers of Spicy Chinos (Mezcal, Tequila, Mango, Jalapeño, Lime, Cilantro, Agave), I’m honestly only incorporating the ingredients here so that I can remake this cocktail every summer for the rest of my life. Our hotel was located right on the beach, so we’d jump in the pool, run out to the ocean, drink some more, and repeat. Our server even got us a portable speaker so that we could play music by the pool, we essentially turned The Backyard into a full on day party. Now this was a bachelorette party, so after a quick nap and a few pink wigs later, we ended up at the strip club, LaBare… and that’s all I’m going to say about that 😉 Later that night we went to E11EVEN, a multi-level nightclub open 24/7 with burlesque dancers and bottle service. We  danced and drank until nearly four in the morning before we relocated to Heart, an after-hours nightclub just across the street. Miami does not stop. It was incredible that this was just our first full day and yet we were already having so much fun. 

  

On Saturday, the pouring rain changed our plans a bit, but it was much needed after the previous day of nonstop drinking. We took it easy through the afternoon and then headed down to Sweet Liberty for happy hour. If you’re a fan of oysters, then you should definitely stop there for happy hour with $0.75 oysters and $5 rosé. After 72 oysters and many glasses of rosé later, we (literally) waited out the storm before heading back to our hotel to get ready for the night. We went a little out of the way for dinner to Mignonette, but it was well worth it for the seafood towers and champagne, if you’re looking for great seafood without the pretentious bullshit, definitely check it out. We then headed to Do Not Sit On The Furniture in South Beach, it has a very locals-only vibe, it’s dimly-lit and all deep house music. Not going to lie, wasn’t really my scene, but it was cool for what it was!

Sunday morning we stopped at Orange Blossom for brunch before we headed out to Biscayne Bay for the day. We rented a chartered catamaran through boat.me, sort of like an airbnb service – but for yachts. The experience was incredibly seamless and our captain was awesome. We cruised through the lagoon, jumped into the ocean, and once again day-drank copious amounts of alcohol. It was truly well worth the money to do, especially split up between friends, I just wish they had something like this in LA! When we returned back to the mainland, we went to the legendary Versailles for cuban sandwiches, plantains, mojitos, and coconut flan. There’s always a crazy long line, but it moves quickly; we waited at most twenty-minutes for a table, and for a dinner under $20, I’m down. That night, the new club, Mr. Jones, opened. Although Sunday nights aren’t exactly ideal for going out, we decided to check it out as it was our last night in town. There were tray-passed hors d’oeuvres which were actually pretty tasty and vodka-infused gummies which were actually pretty disgusting. The music was fun and the crowd was chill, but by 3am, pizza and my bed sounded amazing.

Monday morning we simply laid by the pool, had breakfast at the hotel, and then relaxed before checking out. We cruised down to South Beach to get a late lunch at Sushi Song, did some touristy souvenir shopping, then headed to the airport. I was so sad to go, but my liver and my credit card were very happy we were leaving. This was my first bachelorette party and to be quite honest, I don’t know how anyone else is going to top it.

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New York, New York

|| Travel Date || 10 March 2016 – 14 March 2016

It’s pretty crazy to think that I have traveled to fourteen different countries, yet I have only been to a handful of states. I learned how to snowboard in Utah, I have driven to Arizona a couple times, really only visited Nevada for Las Vegas, and I visited two of the Hawaiian islands. So it seemed only right that I finally made it to the East Coast (with the exception of an international layover). I had been wanting to go to New York for many years and I simply needed an excuse to book a trip. I had enough air miles, I always had friends offering up hospitality, I could eat my body weight in street food and die happy, so really there was nothing holding me back.

I woke up one morning to an Instagram notification that my Austrian cousin, Nora, had tagged me in a photo. I smiled thinking it was probably a throwback or something from Europe and I eagerly swiped open to see. Instead, it was a picture of New York with a caption exclaiming that she just booked her flight. Absolutely thrilled, I texted her immediately to confirm the authenticity of the caption, and the next thing I knew, I was booking my flight to New York too. I didn’t really have a plan, I just booked a long weekend (Thursday – Monday) and figured I’d wing it.

 

I landed at JFK on Thursday evening, made my way to the city, and I checked into my boutique hotel just around the corner from Time Square. I quickly dropped off my bags and immediately began my night. At the time, I was working remotely for a company based in New York, so I reached out to my boss, Brian, to show me around the city. We started at the rooftop of The Press Lounge, the dramatic panoramic views of the city paired with a few cocktails was the perfect combination for a bougie intro to the city. My rule for drinking is that there has to be food as well, especially when we’re switching from liquor to beer to liquor to more liquor to… So we made our way to The Gotham West Market, a large marketplace with various restaurant pop-ups serving exotic cuisine from all over the world. It was really difficult to pick just one place, but I parked my ass on a stool at Cannibal and splurged on a pigs head cuban and a beer. It sounds aggressive, but it was really delicious. Then we switched it up at Maysville for muscles with smoked jalapeño and paprika aioli, cauliflower filled pasta drizzled in a brown butter sauce with walnuts and ricotta, all paired with an artfully crafted Boulevardier. Naturally after all of this unreal gourmet eating and drinking you’d think we’d be stuffed, right? Well, that was the case until we went to Eataly. Flashback to my favorite restaurant in Venice, Italy when I ate at the perfectly executed Rossopomodoro. It’s more of a new-age Italian style restaurant, but still with phenomenal ingredients and extensive options. When I saw the familiar sign hanging above a massive stone pizza oven, my eyes watered up as I joyfully ran to the hostess. I asked her, if this was indeed the same Rossopomodoro as in Venice? She smiled warmly and in a perfectly eloquent Italian accent exclaimed, “yes, it is!” So I shamelessly ordered an entire pizza and forced Brian to finish the box with me. As if the evening couldn’t get any more ridiculous, we finished it off in Times Square like a couple of tourists starring off at the bright lights casually 10lbs heavier.

  

The next morning I met up with my Austrian family for a day of exploring and museums. I swear, I didn’t just go to New York to eat everything. We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), strolled through Grand Central Park admiring the stretch of nature located in the center of the concrete jungle, shopped on 5th Street (well window shopped, only thing I bought was a phone charger), and eventually ended at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). We opted to walk everywhere that day to be able to appreciate the architecture and experience as much of the city that we could. Everything is so close in proximity so it’s really easy to get anywhere by foot. Later that night, I went to Aldo Sohm for a glass of Pinot Noir from Patagonia, some chef’s choice cheese pairings and cured salami. It’s actually comical how much money I spent eating and drinking in New York, I really wanted to try everything. The money I saved staying with friends was in-turn spent on extravagant consumption. That evening I stayed at my friend Allegra’s home in The Upper East side, after a long night of drinking and a lot of walking, it was nice to just stay in and watch Sex In The City. It seemed rather appropriate that the first time I actually watched a full episode was in NYC.

 
 

At this point, I was right back to my typical vagabond ways. I grabbed my bags and headed down to East Village where I would stay at my other friend’s apartment for the remaining two nights. Of course, I wasn’t going to cross town without hitting up a few more iconic touristy destinations, Grand Central Terminal, The Empire State Building, etc. When I eventually arrived in East Village, my friend Ana wasn’t off work yet, so I met up with her boyfriend that I hadn’t met prior to showing up at his front door. Surprisingly, he was really cool to let a stranger in his apartment and grab dinner with me. I was beyond excited to learn that their apartment was just two doors down from Momofuku Noodle Bar. After some epic ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder, and a poached egg on top, we headed across town to The Standard, High Line for their Biergarten and rooftop ~views~. By that time, Ana was finally off work and we joyfully reunited after too many years apart. We started bar-hopping and ended up at some weirdly awesome places. After stopping by what felt like a high school frat party mixed with a grungy underground bar with some spectacular moments caught on snapchat, we finally headed back home. The next morning we crossed the bridge to get lunch at Randolph in Williamsburg, aka hipster heaven, we got a pitcher of a strawberry/cucumber/vodka/basic cocktail and I splurged on a fried spicy chicken sandwich with coleslaw and waffle fries, because duhh. The remainder of the day was spent exploring Brooklyn. I love getting lost within new places and just walking around for hours. Brooklyn is so different from Manhattan and it was really cool to experience the extreme contrast. After a long day, we returned back to Manhattan in the Lower East Side to check out the iconic, Katz’s Deli. As I’m sure you can imagine it was incredible, I gained another 10lbs and further solidified my love for New York. The next morning I was sadly off to the airport, I felt like I blinked and my spontaneous trip was already over. I stopped at Black Seed for one last bagel in New York and some Stumptown Coffee before rushing off to JFK.

Usually when I write about a trip, I feel like there’s more of a guide or educational purpose, but this was really just a tale of massive consumption. I’m not mad about it though if you aren’t? I know I’ll be back to New York plenty more times in my life, but this was definitely an amazing experience for a first-timer. As always if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or if you just want to chat, feel free to write below!